Monthly Archives: October 2008

Day 40 AIM: How do I teach a half-empty class on Halloween?

Do Now: Be a dick and give a review quiz today to the five students whose parents aren’t keeping them at home and are sitting in your class right now. It might be Halloween to some, a day of pranks to others, and gang initiation to even fewer. But to normal citizens, it’s a Friday, and people work on Friday. So give them work. If they complain, explain that you’re in costume as the scariest thing they can imagine: a demanding, strict teacher. And remember, as you’re handing out the scantrons, be sure to say, “Trick or Treat!” They’ll remember that one later for sure as they eat their Tootsie pops and candy corn.


Leave a comment

Filed under Daily AIM

Bowl Predictions…in October?

It’s time now for playoff projections. Yes, playoff projections. Before the season began, I introduced a proposal for a college football playoff. Below I will analyze and predict outcomes for my playoff system, given the BCS rankings effective today…

It’s December 10th, and a full slate of four games are set for national television. It’s time for the play-in games, and college football fans everywhere are more excited than ever. Here are the matchups and results for the weekend…

#6 Georgia (at-large) @ #3 Penn State (Big Ten champion)

State College, PA, noon Eastern

Georgia strolls into Happy Valley having been written off by the pundits. Undefeated Penn State is playing in front of 107,000 boisterous white-clad fans and Georgia is simply not prepared to face the Northeastern December weather—or so the experts say. Penn State simply hasn’t played anyone as talented as Georgia in the Big Ten, and Georgia forces two early turnovers and takes the crowd out of the game. Knowshon Moreno puts on a clinic and allows Matthew Stafford to break some big plays on play-action to take care of the victory for the Dogs.

Continue reading


Filed under College Sports, Matt Dover

Day 39 AIM: When should I use my personal/sick days?

Do Now: Be careful as you consider your options, for these are treacherous waters you wade in. For on one hand, you have ten sick/personal days in your bank. Translation: you’re one phone call away from a day off, a respite, a breather in the marathon of the school year. But remember, school administrators frown upon “strategic” days off. Taking the day off before a holiday to create a compound holiday? Be prepared to explain yourself. Consistently taking Mondays off so you can enjoy all-you-can-drink sangria brunches on the West Side? Good idea, but we’re going to have to see a doctor’s note for that.

The key to success, in this case, is attitude. If you get the inquisition for taking a few days off, throw it back in their faces. There’s a contract, you can say, that guarantees me a specific number of days off per year. Per this document, it is within our right to exercise this option when we deem necessary. If you’re having a bad week, a mental health day is justified. If you are ill, take a sick day off. If you have a high school friend in town, use a “personal” day. It doesn’t matter what you attach in front of the day; what matters is that it’s your day.

The only real thing standing in the way, then, is your own conscience. But remember two things: (1) you’re a human being, a tireless machine of flesh, blood, muscles, and teacher stares that sometimes needs some maintenance work and (2) if you still feel remorseful, just remember that above all else, your students have taken many more “days” then you can even dream of having in that bank of yours.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily AIM

The ULOT NBA 2008-09 Season Preview: Western Conference

If there’s one thing I know well, it is the world of professional basketball. A fan since I can remember, I’ll be here to guide you through the season and tell you what’s going to happen, or at least what I think is going to happen. Last season was one of the best regular seasons in recent memory and the playoffs weren’t too bad either, with a few surprisingly good series (Atlanta pushing Boston to seven games) and one battle that will go down in basketball lore (Pierce v. LeBron James in game seven in Boston of their series, evoking memories of Bird and Dominique). The majority of elite teams still reside in the Western Conference, but as the last two of three champions have shown (Miami and Boston), teams from the East still have to be respected. After a busy off-season that saw some marquee players move to other teams, other conferences, and in one case, another country, this season looks like it should be just as entertaining. Some teams are looking to make that next big step forward while other teams seem to just be waiting for next year already. Teams are listed in order of their predicted finish in their division and an asterisk (*) denotes a playoff team.

NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW: By far the best conference top to bottom. While they are good teams in the East, the top 8 of the West is clearly superior.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under M. Night Crawler, Pro Sports

Day 38 AIM: How can I make friends with the people in my department?

Do Now: Make friends. Fast. Even superficial friends—the kind you make at a workplace, for example—are still friends on the surface. But you’re the new teacher, the neophyte, the fresh meat on the table. Well, don’t fret. They’re teachers, just like you. Just think of your department as a big fraternity, and you’re the pledge. It’s not that they don’t like you. Far from it; they’re simply waiting for you to “earn your stripes.” What does that mean? Maybe you should offer to fetch coffee in the morning, or “volunteer” to bring some breakfast pastries. Making copies? Bring down some folders to the main office while you’re at it. Is it shallow and unimpressive? Yes, but remember, in the end it doesn’t matter if you’re the most hard working, dedicated, inspired teacher on the planet who can perform miracles in the classroom with just some chalk, a graphic organizer, and several intonations of your voice. This ain’t your daddy’s school system: if you don’t have tenure, you’re just another piece of fresh meat for the day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily AIM

Forgetting Sarah Palin

In less than a week, this election business will be good and done (or at least it should be), and when it is, John McCain will forever be remembered as either the candidate that put Sarah Palin in the White House or the candidate who lost trying to put Sarah Palin in the White House.

I’m not a fan of Sarah Palin, and it’s not because I’m a sexist or a political elitist. My disdain for Palin transcends superficial annoyances (although I’m not particularly impressed with her $150,000 wardrobe). Part of it has to do with her political agenda and biography, obscured by inconsistencies in her issue stances. And a lot of it has to do with her ostensible inexperience on any national political scene. But the greatest reason lies within her candidacy itself, which is nothing more than a political gambit and a gimmicky ploy.

The McCain camp will argue that Palin is a qualified, family-oriented GOP leader who embodies the Maverick spirit of his Straight-Talk Express. Palin is a small-town American from small-town America, who embodies the values and spirit of the frontier. She’s an unabashed Washington neophyte who will help McCain rid Congress of pork and corruption and any other necessary housecleaning form the last administration. Simply put, Palin is the Annie Oakley McCain needed for his Butch Cassidy campaign, renegades against the Bush status quo. Never mind that with all the slander, mudslinging, and hyperbole spewing out of the McCain camp, his self-label of political maverick has become sorely perverted; McCain’s political reputation is now forever tarnished because of his shallow choice of running mate. The Palin candidacy solidifies what we have all suspected: McCain has become everything he once condemned—a political sycophant who compromises his values and caters to the Republican Machine.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Eugene Lee

Day 37 AIM: Which newspaper best serves the needs of teachers?

Do Now: You know the value of current events and understand the value of using articles in the classroom. But you are frusted with those uber-academic articles from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Now you’re faced with a dilemma, for on one hand you’ve got the best information in the nation, written by the best writers and reporters, in the most thorough manner, and on the other you’ve got outwardly simplistic pieces of rather inconsequential actions, biased in most respects, bogus in others. This might be true, but catch yourself, for you’re thinking like a college-educated adult and not a teacher in the inner-city. Sure, the Times has a great editorial board, but what’s the point for a classroom if the language is beyond the students. Listen George Will, do yourself a favor and grab an AM New York or the Daily News on the way to work. Read it on the subway. Sure, it’s tacky in its own right, but it’s accessible, and that’s the key to a good classroom read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily AIM